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Clawing back a penny from kids? Really? What was this Irving company thinking?

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I see in my Daily Gleaner this morning that the company has changed its mind about cutting all paper carriers pay from 15 to 14 cents per paper. Those who walk their routes will get the penny back, but those who use a vehicle will continue to have their pay reduced because the company wanted to, in its words, “align with the falling cost of gasoline, which reduced expenses for carriers who use their cars for delivery.”

Back to that in a minute, but what confuses me is that until CBC reported the corporate decision to reduce the paperboys and papergirls pay by a penny, I hadn’t heard about it.

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And I don’t know why. Because every morning, as regular as day follows night, the young lad that delivers our paper never misses. It doesn’t matter how cold or dark it is, how hard it is raining, or how much snow he has to tramp through to get to the mailbox, he delivers.

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So I never missed a paper, and I always read it. But I don’t recall reading about Brunswick News reducing the amount they pay that little guy and the other carriers.

And this reduction took place several weeks ago so it’s not as if CBC simply beat them to the punch.

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But what a difference a day makes. The CBC breaks the story, the social media kicks in with outrage about how this is a new low for the Irving company, the pressure hits, and Irving partially reverses the decision because “we have listened to people’s concerns and we understand their reactions”.

Translation – we’ve got to do some damage control here. 

The reduction from 15 to 14 cents per delivered paper remains in effect for those who drive their rounds because the price of gas is less than it used to be. This begs a couple of questions. First, how much of an increase did these carriers get when the price of gas soared? And second, the price of gas is now increasing again, so will the pay cut be rescinded to align with that?

From a communications point of view, the fact we wouldn’t even know about how the company is treating its carriers if not for CBC speaks to one of the downsides of the near monopoly ownership of the print media in this province.

It’s pretty clear this decision was only reversed because the Irving owned company  was shamed into it. And they had the odds stacked in their favour because they owned the papers and were probably pretty sure they wouldn’t be exposed in those pages.

But the odds were also that it would get out at some point, so why would a company make this decision in the first place, and risk looking pretty petty for a penny a paper? (How’s that for alliteration? but I disgress.) You have to wonder what the discussions were around the table that produced this decision to pinch a penny.

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A large corporation taking pennies from school children just because they can. The optics are absolutely terrible. It’s been so frigidly cold lately, the better discussion should have been around finding some way to reward them.

A couple of images come to mind - Ebenezer Scrooge rubbing his hands in greed, and this - Fagin, from Oliver:

 

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